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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Gosh. I really can't add anything to the other reviews except to say that I also loved this book. The characters jump from the page & the description of life in the trenches is vivid. There may be some historical inaccuracies & I admit that I also questioned the "blindfold moment" but it wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment. Now I want to lend it to EVERYONE. If you're not...
Published on 2 Sep 2012 by MISS HAVISHAM READ IT

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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book
After reading other reviews on this book,my viewpoint is not going to go down well....

I've read three other books by John Boyne (' .... Striped Pyjamas'; ' ... Bounty'; '...Special Purpose') and really enjoyed them. The Absolutist was very disappointing. One other reviewer has already alluded to the use of the modern idiom. I too found this frustrating and...
Published on 24 July 2012 by FoyoftheRovers


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 2 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
Gosh. I really can't add anything to the other reviews except to say that I also loved this book. The characters jump from the page & the description of life in the trenches is vivid. There may be some historical inaccuracies & I admit that I also questioned the "blindfold moment" but it wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment. Now I want to lend it to EVERYONE. If you're not on the list to borrow it from me then I strongly recommend that you treat yourself.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another excellent read, 8 Jun 2011
By 
Clarke (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Absolutist (Hardcover)
I have been a fan of John Boyne's writing for some time and this book definitely did not disappoint! It was well written and was a real page turner right to the end. Touching at times and dramatic at others - this book has conveyed the story of 2 men in the midst of WW1 struggling to survive and cope with the help of each other. Beautifully written!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written novel, 2 Jun 2011
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Absolutist (Hardcover)
I was hooked from the clever and surprising opening sentence of this novel and could not put it down thereafter. This is the beautifully and simply written story of Tristan Sadler, a young man from London who trains and fights as a soldier in World War One, and a story of friendship and of love, of morals and cowardice, and the turmoil and harsh reality of war.

With a lovely structure, the novel is narrated in the first person throughout by Tristan, with sections alternating between his agonizing post war visit to Norwich in 1919 to deliver letters sent by Marian Bancroft to her brother Will, and his army training in Aldershot and subsequent posting to the front lines of France in 1916. Tristan has been disowned by his family having, in their eyes, disgraced them after an incident with a friend at his school, and he lies about his age to enlist for the war early.

I feel that to discuss the plot in much more detail here would be to lessen the enjoyment and experience of discovering it as it unfolds, so suffice it to say that this is an intensely sad, moving and compelling novel.
The concept of an Absolutist in the context of the Great War is explained in the novel as and when the situation arises to which it applies.

I also think the hardcover dust jacket is beautifully designed and really adds to the appeal of the book in this case, with the striking white feather suspended as it floats from the soldier's hand.

I am a fan of this author, in particular for two of his novels, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and look forward to future works by him with relish.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book, 24 July 2012
This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
After reading other reviews on this book,my viewpoint is not going to go down well....

I've read three other books by John Boyne (' .... Striped Pyjamas'; ' ... Bounty'; '...Special Purpose') and really enjoyed them. The Absolutist was very disappointing. One other reviewer has already alluded to the use of the modern idiom. I too found this frustrating and point out expressions completely out of context with the time " ... We were an item."; " Keep it together". There are many others, one of them being the repeated use of the word 'foxhole' when Boyne means 'dugout'. According to Merrion Webster (Encyclopaedia Britannica) the word foxhole wasn't coined until 1919. If the 'voice' of the narrator and other characters, plus the contextual setting, is not believable then the credibility of the book begins to crumble.

However, the use of modern idiom pales beside the sloppy research. Sergeant Clayton seems to be in command of the whole regiment (Boyne means battalion as regiment is titular and in the first world war, a regiment could comprise as many as twenty battalions.The only officer referred to is General Fielding, whom Bancroft says he will approach regarding the murder of the German soldier. This just couldn't happen. There are at least nine ranks between sergeant and the lowest rank of general and complaints are only forwarded initially to the next rank up. Where was the company commander ( a captain or major) and the lieutenants. Also, when Saddler is sent back for medical treatment. Sergeant Clayton overrules the doctor's decision concluding with the doctor saying to Clayton "Understood, Sir." All army doctors are officers who wouldn't defer to a mere sergeant and would never call a lower rank 'Sir'. Besides which, once the casualty has reached the aid station, he is under the medical officer's command. I assume that, once again, Mr. Boyne has his wires crossed and what he means is not doctor but medical orderly (which he refers to as medics; another anomaly within his terminology) The use of 'Sir'comes up many times when all the privates call Sergeant Clayton and his corporals, 'Sir'. this is quite ludicrous. (Sir' is an officer of 2nd Lieutenant upwards - though the Regimental Sergeant Major is often referred to respectfully as 'Sir' by ranks beneath him)

I had been losing patience with this book long before I got to Bancroft's execution. A 'kangaroo court' is referred to briefly but the whole rigmarole, up to and including the execution, is handled by Clayton again. This is impossible. all executions during the first world war were preceded on the basis of trial by via courts martial and the court was always made up of senior officers.Ultimately the commander in chief (at the time of the book's supposed setting, Field Marshal Haig) had to approve the findings of the courts if the verdict was death by firing squad.

The firing squad itself was completely unbelievable. 'I need one more' (for the firing squad) says Clayton. 'I can't sir' says (Corporal) Wells 'It has to be an enlisted man.' What does Boyne believe that Wells is? A corporal is an enlisted man. Also, a firing squad is chosen by higher authority and Clayton,the omnipotent sergeant, having seemingly selected his own firing squad (deciding six is enough for a squad as opposed to the usual twelve), arbitrarily saying 'I need one more'. This is risible. Sadler volunteers and Bancroft whips away his blindfold at the last to see Tristan Sadler. How Bancroft managed to perform this action, when he would be trussed up tighter than a Christmas turkey and bound to an execution post, staggers belief.

This is all a great shame as this could have been a decent book. Mr.Boyne is a good writer but, success may have gone to his head if he is capable of turning out this shoddily written and poorly researched offering. If Boyne wanted to acquire some accuracy, there is a wealth of information available to him, and more specifically regarding military excecutions in the First World War, he might have glanced at the seminal works on the issue, e.g. 'Shot at Dawn' by Putkowski and Sykes and 'The Thin Yellow Line' by William Moore.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous story ! Worthy of a Sixth Star !, 16 Aug 2014
By 
Bruce Miller "hyper2u" (Louisville, Kentucky and San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
When I started this book, I had no idea of what it was about or even what the word Absolutist meant. It wasn't until page 275 or so that I became aware of the definition. The story development was amazing ! Each page brought a new understanding of the characters along with the historical background of the Great War. It read as if it could have been a true story. Moral questions were raised throughout the book and one has to imagine how they would have acted if presented in similiar circumstances under similiar conditions. It was a soul searching account expressed in a brilliant style. I was hoping for reconciliation between the characters but that would have been disappointing to the story. This was the type of book that could not be put down; even now that I have finished it, i still reflect back with amazement at how extraordinary the story was. Well Done !
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning..., 18 Aug 2011
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Absolutist (Hardcover)
From the start of The Absolutist, I was engrossed in Tristan and Will's story, and found myself really hurrying the pages to see what happened next.
The description of the time in the trenches is poignant, desperately sad, and hugely horrific, but never without tender philosophy.I loved both characters, and wanted everything to work out for them - but like all those who fought and died in the Great war, nothing will ever be the same again.

John Boyne is a master storyteller, who manages in a few short sentences to convey a complete world, and a time and place that really exists in your subconscious, with characters that come to life, and who live on in your memory, long after the last page is turned.

I loved every word of this book, and it has to be up there in my top ten reads for 2011.
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1.0 out of 5 stars just poor writing, 29 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
What a disappointment. The basic story idea was good, but the writing is unsophisticated, the dialogue is 'clunky' and completely anachronistic, and the number of factual errors about the Army, clothing, everyday objects and social life is so huge that even if I hadn't been annoyed by the blindingly obvious nature of the plot hints, I still wouldn't have been able to enjoy the book. I can't see why you would set out to write historical fiction but not be prepared to check the OED to see when people started to use a particular word or phrase or Google for basic facts. You don't get a 'get out of criticism free' card just because you write about a sensitive topic, Mr Boyne, sorry.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy research undermines a sound premise, 27 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
The basic premise is good but the twist is about as obvious as it could be and entirely guessable, this made all the allusions to it irritating. The characters are cardboard cut-outs to hang the plot twists on but it's the historical inaccuracies which are such a letdown and completely undermine the story e.g. foxholes rather than dugouts, entirely absent layers of command - no officers apart from a general (who would have been so far removed from the ranks as to be wholly unapproachable). That the author apparently doesn't have even the vaguest clue about rank & structure which is a crucial hole because it makes all the actions entirely unbelievable, particularly the final section which is critical to the plot. I also disliked the slightly knowing "I might be a writer .." if I'm good enough stuff which was just self indulgence.

The only positive thing about it is that it does pay some attention to the attitudes both at home and in the military about conscientious objectors and perceptions of cowardice and the treatment of families of those perceived to be cowards.

The whole book feels like a shoddy money spinner (including the overlarge font which makes the book twice as thick as it would have been had a more usual font size been used). There are so many good books about the first world war that this really is a travesty that adds nothing. If you want a good novel about the war and the effect of its horrors on the combatants then Pat Barkers Regeneration trilogy is accurate and moving. But the many biographies and autobiographies from combatants of all nations are the best evocation of this black time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put it Down!, 22 July 2014
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This review is from: The Absolutist (Paperback)
I found this book difficult to put down despite the fact that one of the main characters, Tristan Sadler, was not very likeable. I agree that some of the modern terminology was out of place but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I have read most of John Boyne’s book and I would certainly recommend this one.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding historical fiction..., 7 Jun 2011
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Absolutist (Hardcover)
John Boyne's "The Absolutist" is the story of two British WW1 soldiers who are bonded through the terrors of the trenches and the horrors of warfare. One survives - forever damaged - and the other one is brought down by a firing squad on charges of cowardice.

The term "absolutist" is applied to a soldier who refuses to fight or take part in any wartime actions. They are different from "conscientious objectors", who were willing to serve in auxiliary roles at the front, i.e., nurses, stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers, etc. "Absolutists" refused - point-blank - to serve at all. These two men - only 18 years old when they meet at training school and then are sent to France to fight - are witnesses - and sometime participants - in brutality beyond description.

Tristan Sadler survived the war, returning to London and an entry-level job in the publishing industry. Still shattered by war-time experiences, he contacts the sister of his friend who was killed by the firing squad. Sadler has letters that his friend, Will Bancroft, had entrusted to him. These were letters to Will from his sister, Marian, and Sadler feels honor-bound to return the letters to Marian. He travels to Norwich to meet Marian and her parents. The Bancroft family is living as pariahs in their community because of the way Will Bancroft met his end.
Disgraced as the family of a "coward", Sadler tries to explain to them the circumstances of Will's declaration of his "absolutism" in wartime and the attendant result.

But there are secrets that Tristan cannot tell Will Bancroft's mourning family. And these secrets are what John Boyne so cunningly dole out in his novel. There's no black-and-white here, except maybe in the horrors of the trenches. Each character is nuanced, as are the situations that arise in the book.

Boyne's book is absolutely excellent. It's sad that "The Absolutist" is not yet available in the US; I bought my copy at an English-language bookstore in Berlin.
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The Absolutist
The Absolutist by John Boyne (Paperback - 5 July 2012)
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